Help for thousands in Cornwall affected by a hidden condition

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Cornwall Council and its partners are developing plans to tackle a hidden condition that could affect thousands of residents across Cornwall.

Dual Sensory Loss (DSL) jointly affects the sight and hearing of many of us by the time we reach our mid-70s. It can have a huge impact on our daily lives with the things we once took for granted becoming increasingly difficult.

Everyday tasks such as driving, shopping, reading your post, crossing the road, answering the phone, knowing who is at the door or even making a hot cup of tea safely can all be hugely affected by DSL, which can be also known as combined hearing and sight loss, dual sensory impairment or deafblindness.

Person walking with a cane

You don’t need to have a formal diagnosis - no two people will be alike and it could simply be that your ears and eyes don’t seem to work as well as they once did.

Cornwall Council is working in partnership with Hearing Impairment & Visual Impairment Support UK (Hi-Vis UK), supported by key Cornish stakeholder organisations, to understand how many people live with DSL in Cornwall and then to develop a range of services to help those with DSL live their lives to the full as independently as possible.

David Sutton, from Hi-Vis UK, said: “All of us need three basic skills to be able to live our lives to the full – being mobile, being able to access information and being able to communicate clearly with others. We do all this routinely, without giving much thought to how, by relying on our distance senses – hearing and sight – but as we get older they are both affected by ageing in the same way as everything else.”

Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adults and Public Health, added: “It is important we all understand what the impacts of deafblindness might be and what we can do for those affected. You can help us understand more about the kind of support that’s needed by completing our online survey. The survey results will play a major role in helping us develop services that will truly benefit residents struggling with DSL.”

If you would like to help us to support those affected by DSL, whether you are an older resident or someone who is concerned about elderly family or friends, the first steps are to complete our simple online survey.

Take part in the Council's DSL survey

Please also take the opportunity to learn about some of the everyday issues faced by those with DSL and how you can help yourself, family members or friends by taking part in free DSL awareness training.

For any further information or advice, you can email Jane@hi-vis.org and receive a reply no later than the next working day, or if you are concerned that your sensory loss is impacting on your daily life, contact the Council’s Access team on 0300 1234131.

Story posted November 24, 2021

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